Strong defense keys wins over Lake Oswego and Lakeridge

by: VERN UYETAKE - Sidney Kolasinski drives past Lakeridge's Colleen Ellis in the Lions' win over the Pacers.The West Linn girls basketball team picked up its first two league victories of the year, sweeping the Lake Oswego schools, although both the Lakers and Pacers gave the Lions some issues at times.

Against Lakeridge Friday, West Linn jumped out to a quick lead with tough defense and led by 22 at the half, but the Pacers would continue to fight, outscoring the Lions in the second half in West Linn's 59-38 victory.

West Linn forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone and hit its first four shots from the field, all from close range. However, turnovers also hurt the Lions who likely could have run away from Lakeridge in the opening period.

West Linn led 13-5 after the first period and then started to open things up. The Lions had just one turnover in the second quarter and it allowed the team to get some rhythm offensively.

Ashley Johnson drained a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter and had 11 points in the first half. Sidney Kolasinski, while not having her shot early in the contest, affected the game immensely with her defensive pressure and her passing, finishing the game with seven assists.

West Linn led 38-16 at the break. The Lions made an effort to pound the ball inside in the third quarter and Morgan Haskin gave the Pacers trouble.

West Linn held a significant rebounding edge in the game and Haskin finished with nine by herself.

The Lions went up 54-27 but then backed off in the final quarter and only scored five points.

West Linn then took on Lake Oswego on the road Tuesday and used a stellar defensive performance in the second half to fend off a young but scrappy Laker team.

In the Interstate Shootout earlier in the year, Lake Oswego only lost to the Lions by three points. However, the Lakers recently lost their leading scorer, Juliana Ramey, for the season with an ankle injury.

Lake Oswego started three freshmen and two sophomores but was competitive with the Lions.

Johnson had the hot hand again early for West Linn. She was 3-for-3 from shots beyond the arc in the first half and, after Lake Oswego closed the early gap to 11-10, Genna Hughes responded with a big 3-pointer of her own.

West Linn led 18-12 after the first period. A steal and layup from Caitlin Malvar sparked an early 6-0 for the Lions in the second quarter but Lake Oswego continued to hang around, only trailing 33-22 at the break.

Both teams struggled from the field in the third quarter. West Linn re-upped its efforts on defense and forced contested shots, but the Lions missed a handful of chip shots from close to the hoop.

The Lions held Lake Oswego to just three points in the quarter and a late spurt, capped by a buzzer-beating layup from Courtney Landis made it 43-25.

Like the Lakeridge game, West Linn loosened up on the reins in the fourth quarter, only hitting one field goal in the period but the defense carried the Lions to the victory.

Johnson led all scorers with 15 points.

West Linn will now travel to Canby on Friday to take on a dangerous Cougars team in a crucial early league showdown.